5) Some people are vultures. Try to give your email address/phone number and other personal information to as few people as possible.
Example A: I made this mistake by going to bridal salons and giving them my information because I was interested in one of their dresses. I thought they were saving the dress info for me, but instead they "entered" me into a "drawing." All they did was take my information and pass it on to a florist who then began to call me once a week and tell me, "I've won!" Her voice was more and more annoyed every time she had to call and leave a voicemail. It's been 3 weeks now and I haven't received another one. I'm not even getting married in this state. I don't need your dumb flowers. This practice isn't true with all bridal salons, just be choosy.
Example B: I gave my information to a venue that we sort of liked. We were just pretty much sure we weren't going to book it. They seemed desperate. They even tried to explain their one negative review on the Knot. You know, she was one of those brides where "nothing will please her." Or...maybe they expected something better for their thousands upon thousands of dollars. We wouldn't have even known about the negative review if he hadn't told us. Six months later I still get phone calls. I will be married and probably still get phone calls. I'd make the time to call you back sir, except I'm a little busy actually planning my wedding.
This was also one of those places where they promised not to nickel-and-dime. Exact words he used. However, there's a 20% surcharge for using their preferred vendors...
6) Get the contract early, even if you're not ready to sign quite yet. It will give you a good idea of extra fees and requirements that they forgot to mention. Have someone knowledgeable look at it. Don't be afraid to tweak this contract. Your vendor will go back to it if you ask them about something you discussed as a perk. If it's not there, you most likely won't get it. You have to cover yourself and the contract may only be written in their favor. They may not be trying to swindle you, it just may be a very generic contract. I feel like we did more work on the contract than they did.
7) And you won't like this one...If you can afford it, get a wedding planner. Or at least get your maid of honor or fiance to help you out and make these phone calls and write those emails for you. You can't do this alone.
But the best piece of advice that I can give you: Don't be afraid to be annoying. But, be nice about it. You can get a lot more done in your favor if you're pleasant. Just be proactive.